The Book Club

A la recherche du temps perdu

I sit in silence being new to the group before making a few points on the chosen book. I am largely ignored. Which is what happens to that novel after the first glass of wine. It is the literary boasting that takes over. The host sounds as if she and Dickens are bosom pals, ‘We go right back,’ she says. ‘I was in love with him from the age of seven, can quote chunks of his prose.’ The rest murmur approval but don’t take her up on the point. Her special buddy waxes lyrical on the Russian literary giants especially Dostoyesky, which she pronounces incorrectly, and then fails to offer even one title. ‘No, no!’ cries the woman in the kaftan. ‘American literature is the best, has much more to offer, for women especially.’ A requirement for her to endorse this statement is lost in the opening of another bottle and topping up of glasses. They carry on with a lot of twaddle about novels being far too long or too short or indigestible, whether prizes have any value. I lose track. Wonder how I can take the talk back to the reason we are here, find out who did or did not enjoy the novel of choice or the even, whether … But there is little hope of success as a further round of wine is doled out.
So I wait, tempted to say that my mother read Proust to me as a bedtime story. Something about something being lost. If only I could remember the name, I’d claim that for myself.

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